Cambodia hardly is a hotbed of the visual arts, but. . .

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Cambodia’s minister of culture and fine arts, Phoeurng Sackona, spoke warmly about the artist Sopheap Pich, standing at her left, in front of the sculpture called Big Being.

No one would describe Cambodia as a vital center of the visual arts in Southeast Asia.

While there are art schools and art exhibitions, the output does not tend to be memorable. (When it comes the visual arts, I find photography to be the most accomplished.)

One reason must be  Continue reading

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Thank the Chinese for combining a shop with a house

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It was the Chinese who introduced to Cambodia in the late 18th century what is called the shophouse, a building with narrow frontage and a store, open living area and usually both on the ground floor.

Sometimes, the whole ground floor is devoted to sales, and the vendors live on the higher floors.  In New York City and elsewhere, of course, folks who reside in such a structure are said to be living over the store.

Here in Phnom Penh, block after block is lined with shophouses selling merchandise or services exposed to the street, in part because Continue reading